Dinner Ideas for Fall

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Do you wish for fresh inspiration? Some tasty dinner ideas for fall? Look no further. Check out these fall dinner themes to make your meal planning easier.

Chicken Pot Pie

Fall has arrived! And with it, there’s a decided change of pace — and of taste! The sparkling beverages and light meals that were oh-so-appealing just a few weeks ago, now don’t seem so enticing now that the days are shortening and a chill has hit the air, do they? Bring on the warm cuppa and the hearty main dishes.

As your days start to fill up and fall into a rhythm for, you may feel the need to reestablish some regular, no brainer meal plans, especially geared toward this season. One thing that can really speed up your meal planning is the practice of dinner theme nights.

Dinner Ideas for Fall

Selecting a few different meal planning themes can make your meal planning super simple by providing you a template of dinner ideas and helping you identify which pantry staples to keep on hand. Not only will theme nights save you time, but they can also save you money since you’ll often have whatever you need in the cupboard all ready.

Consider these dinner ideas for fall:

Soups, Stews, and Chili

Soup is good food. As are stews and chilis. They are easy to prepare, can be made with pantry staples and even leftovers, and they easily stretch to feed a crowd.

However, Soup Night can be considered with more than one side eye if you’ve got picky eaters. If so, be brave and courageous, especially in light of this word from an experienced mom. There’s no reason you need to wimp out when it comes to serving soup, a filling and healthy meal that is cheap and easy to pull off.

That said, there’s a whole world of soups, stews, and chilis to explore with your people.

Some tried and true favorites: Chicken Noodle, Minestrone, Cheese Soup with Veggies, and Roasted Vegetable.

Ploughman’s Lunch

Football Food

Fall marks the signal of game days, game nights, and games all the live-long-day. If your people are football fans, then you really need to pay better attention to the day of the week, especially when you’re meal planning.

While you can’t plan game day food Sunday, Monday, AND Thursday, you might want to plan for at least one meal that caters to game watching.

Consider something easily portable, not too messy, kind of on the munchy side of things, like these: Brats with Peppers, Grilled Burgers, Sandwich night, or a Ploughman’s Lunch.

And if you aren’t football fans, don’t sweat it. These are good eats regardless!

Creamy Chicken Pasta with Spinach and Tomatoes | Life as Mom

Creamy Chicken Pasta with Spinach and Tomatoes

Pasta Night

Most kids really do love pasta. It’s easy, it’s cheap, it’s filling. And you can customize it to suit your preferences at the same time as allow the children their simpler tastes. Make one batch of noodles and then vary the toppings and sauces.

Some favorites: Cilantro Shrimp Pasta, Tomato and Brie Pasta, and Vegetable Bolognese.

Enchilada Casserole with Chiles and Cheese


It’s been awhile since you’ve really hunkered down with casseroles, hasn’t it? Thank goodness for fall when it’s totally appropriate to serve “hot dish” for supper.

Casseroles are comfort food that is easy to make ahead. While casseroles have gotten a bad wrap over the years, there are really some delicious options out there, and many that are freezer friendly.

One-dish meals full of flavor? Yes, please! I think it’s time to whip up a bunch for the freezer!

Some of our favorites include Poblano Chile Enchiladas, a fresh herb lasagnaSausage Noodle Casserole, and Homemade Curried Chicken and Broccoli Casserole.

Mexican Food Night

What is life without Taco Tuesday?! But don’t feel like it needs to be the same kind of tacos every week or even tacos every week. Southwest flavors make for great dinners!

Mexican-style meals are easy to pull together and pack a big punch with low cost and little preparation. While making use of similar ingredients each week, you can plan for lots of variety, featuring Carnitas, Tostadas, Salsa Verde Beef, or Potato Nachos.

Beans and Rice can always serve as the meal plan for when you’re without a meal plan.

Chicken Pesto Pizza with Fresh Avocado

Pizza Night

Homemade pizza is incredibly easy to prepare, perfect for Friday nights. Making pizza at home is not rocket science and is sure to be a not-to-be-missed meal on the calendar.

One of the best things going for pizza — besides the fact that it’s PIZZA! — is that you can top it with little bits of leftover meat, veg, and cheese from other meals throughout the week. It’s a perfect catch-all supper.

Try one of these: Favorite Pizza Recipes Your Family Will Love.

Cooking Out

While it’s certainly starting to get chilly in some parts of the country, fall is still a great time to grill. Keep an eye out for grilling cuts that go on sale, particularly if your grocery store has football season specials. Stock up and then plan one night to grill a bunch of your favorites.

Buffalo Chicken SaladGrilled Vegetable Kabobs, and Tarragon Turkey Burgers are all delicious.

While it’s hard to say goodby to summer, it’s great to say hello to fall — particularly when there are so many tasty dinner ideas to make the most of the season.

What dinner ideas do you have for fall?

About Jessica Fisher

I believe anyone can prepare delicious meals—no matter their budget.

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  1. karen says

    On the soup issue–my kids (ages 6 and 3) love roasted butternut squash/sweet potato soup and lentil soup. Easy, inexpensive, and good for you. To get little kids to eat soup, I often serve it in mugs (it’s more fun that way) or with a straw (to slurp up broth).

    • Carrie says

      Float some goldfish crackers or other kid sized munchies on top for even more kid appeal!

  2. Shannon says

    On Friday nights, I am going to be alternating breakfast for dinner and pizza.

  3. Mmm, I love a good chili come autumn! I like your idea of 2 soups per week. I don’t make them that often, but when I do, my favorite kind to make is with sweet potatoes and black beans. (Here’s the recipe if you’re interested in adding a healthy vegetarian option to your rotation!)

  4. We had our first pot of chili this weekend. Temps dipped into the 60s at night and humidity was low, which meant it felt MUCH cooler than it has been feeling – a welcome relief!

    I love soup night too…and it will begin a regular appearance once it cools off a little more.

  5. Thanks for the linky love. We eat a lot of soup here in the fall and winter.

  6. Liz says

    I don’t usually cook a lot of soup but I’ve got a carcass in the freezer (a turkey carcass that is) and will be trying my hand at turkey soup. My kids love potato soup so that’s the one that we normally serve. While I’m dreading winter I’m looking forward to pulling out our winter menu also.

  7. Heather says

    What a great post! I am printing most of these recipes. Your link to the roasted vegetable soup isn’t working though and googling didn’t help me. Can you check your link?

    • Jessica Fisher says

      It should work now. Thanks!

  8. Thanks for the inspiration! I had 2 soups on the menu last fall and winter – chicken stew and tomato with pasta. I love soups, however, we just never got around to serving them.

    On Friday nights, I’ve been switching back and forth between homemade pizza and homemade calzones. The kids love to help with both, and as long as I plan the time to make them, we’re usually fine. I do need to make the dough early in the day because I’m exhausted by the end of the day.

  9. Lucky says

    I’m making taco soup tonight — my picky son will usually eat some if I give him some cheese to sprinkle on top and crackers on the side. DH will eat it if I have a loaf of bread for dipping and either homemade iced tea or lemonade for drinking.

  10. Beth says

    I love this post as I am most in my cooking element during the autumn and winter.

    Have you ever tried making your own enchilada sauce? I experimented with it this last batch of freezer cooking because I figured out my kids didn’t like enchiladas because the TJ’s sauce I was using is too spicy. The red sauce went over well and I haven’t tried the roasted salsa verde version yet (yes, I know. Not technically enchilada sauce. :)) If you make your own I’d love to see a recipe.

    Admittedly, this made enchiladas even more of an ordeal. Between homemade refried beans, chicken I thawed, brined, roasted and shredded, greens from the Farmer’s Market I snuck in, and shredding my own cheese, adding homemade sauce to the mix made it a little crazy. Then there’s the matter of only one pan to freeze them in so I had to do batches. I think it took me 3 days to get all that done!

  11. My 3-year-old hates soup. I still serve it a few times a week and she’ll sigh and pick through a few bites, usually. The rest of us really like it, so she has to deal. 🙂

    Surprisingly I did a chicken and bacon green salad over the weekend and everyone ate it. Not really “fall” but a new one for us. My 2-year-old loved the homemade (very garlicky) dressing and asked for more twice!

    Family favorites include pork chops and rice, pizza, roast chicken (tonight!), and tacos. Most of these make regular appearances on our meal plan. Taco salad is our go-to meal if we don’t have a plan.

    It’s unfortunate, but I LOVE complex flavors and gourmet foods and I enjoy making them. But for the most part no one else will eat them! Oh well…every now and then I make them anyway. 🙂

    • Jessica Fisher says

      I try to make recipes that I can doctor up for myself after I serve the others. 🙂

  12. We’ve been indulging in homemade caramel apple cider, and I’m excited about getting back to baking…

    My meal plan for the week: http://thedollarholleringhomemaker.blogspot.com/2011/09/meal-plan-september-18-24.html

  13. Love, love, love fall and home cooking. My favorite food for fall is a yummy warm apple crisp. I also love to make soups, Chili and Broccoli with Cheese being the favorites!! The cool crisp air of fall just puts me into the mood to cook!

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